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Medha a genuine activist

I read the article “Swimming against the tide” by Nonika Singh (Oct 28). However, among the four women photographed in the piece, only Medha Patkar is a genuine activist. She was never against the construction of Narmada Dam, but raised her voice against the government’s apathy in providing rehabilitation work to the oustees.

Prior to the construction of the dam, water supply in thousands of villages of Gujarat, particularly in the Saurashtra region, had to be provided with the help of tankers. Now the Narmada Dam has offset that problem for good.

Shabana Azmi’s concern for slum-dwellers is only academic and fashionable. Arundhati Roy is not an activist. She is only a contrarian, anachronistic or a breast beater. Her ideas and thoughts on various issues are out of sync with the system. The writer rightly said, “Some of them made sure that they are visible — seen and heard loud and clear.”

Most activists in India have claimed to fame for espousing wrong causes. Sunderlal Bhuguna delayed the construction of the Tehri Dam by five years causing a colossal loss to the country and the exchequer. Professor Aggarwal stalled the construction of many run-off-the-river hydro power projects in Uttaranchal. The National Thermal Power Corporation had already invested Rs 800 crore in one of the projects.

Now the Renuka Dam project, which was to provide water supply to Delhi, has been denied the forest clearance. Many good projects in Orissa were stalled due to local activists’ pressure.

Consequently, Indian activism, with rare exception, is a facade whether espoused by men or women. Bernard Shaw aptly said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”


Give us our due

While addressing the Combined Commanders’ annual conference recently, the Prime Minister reiterated the Centre’s commitment to the modernisation of armed forces and underlined that “no country could pregress without ensuring its security and territorial integrity”. He commended the professionalism displayed by the armed forces adding that “the country would consistently accord priority to issues related to equipment, training and welfare of the soldiers and the ex-servicemen and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that the armed forces attract the best talent in the country.”

Dr Manmohan Singh should accept the ‘One Rank One Pension’ demand of the ex-servicemen immediately, announce the formation of the (already accepted) separate pay commission for the armed forces seeking joint services’ recommendations within one month and implement them within a period of one year, appoint the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) based on the formulations projected by the armed forces.

The Centre should pay the legitimate financial dues accrued to Army officers due to anomalous calculation of their salaries (by the Finance department) after the fourth pay commission, which his (UPA-1) government has unfairly refused to pay in 2006.

Lt-Col JIWAN SHAROTRI (retd). Kasauli (HP)

Web of corruption

According to the Transparency International’s annual survey, India has slipped from 84th position to 87th implying that India has become more corrupt than last year.

The ranges vary from zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (thought to have little corruption). India has scored 3.3 in the corruption perception index.

After the Commonwealth Games, the focus has now shifted to high level inquiry committee. The question arises weather the committee will really find out the names of people involved in large-scale corruption or simply recommend action against some top level technocrats and middle level businessmen.

V.K. GUPTA, Kurukshetra

Spurious sweets

The countrywide raids have unearthed tonnes of adulterated milk products to be used for making sweets during Divali. It is shocking to know that some greedy people are preparing to turn the Festival of Lights into the Festival of Death. While a large number of people will be celebrating the festival, many homes will be struggling to save the lives of their beloved ones, victims of sweets, a must for Divali.

It is surprising how the leaders have turned a blind eye to the happenings.  No action has been announced either by the Centre or the states to stop this menace except for conducting random raids during the festival.

The government should stop all sweets made out of khoya. No milk byproduct should be allowed to be sold in loose condition. Only packaged milk products bearing all relevant information about the product and the manufacturer should be allowed to be sold. It is the government’s duty to ensure the good health of all citizens.

H.B.S. PAHWA, Ludhiana

Raja should be shown the door

The Supreme Court has rightly admonished the Centre for its continued defiance of the rules for public propriety in not showing the door to Union Telecommunications Minister A. Raja for his alleged involvement into 2G spectrum scam.

The Minister is unashamedly continuing in the ministry though the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has cited incontrovertible evidence about his involvement into the 70,000-crore rupee scam. But what hurts the common man is that all this is happening right under the nose of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is known for his honesty and integrity.

However, this honesty is of no use to the country if it is accompanied by the Prime Minister’s failure to catch the bull by its horns. No compulsion can override the national interest. Continuing a tainted Minister in the government is sending wrong signals and the corrupt and crafty are scoffing at the system thinking that the government is not at all serious on tackling corruption. It is a pity that the whole exercise of asking the CBI to inquire into the matter without defining any timeline looks to be farce even to the man in the street.

Now with effective intervention by the apex court, no time should be wasted in removing Mr Raja from the Cabinet as the Centre’s failure to set good precedents would imply that the powers that be are conniving to weaken the foundations of the Republic.

S.C. CHABBA, Patiala



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